Today I want to take a look at the upcoming Interbike trade show and give you my take on what's coming down the pike for 29"ers and mountain biking in general. If Eurobike was any indication, there will be a lot of 29"er craziness going down in Las Vegas once again.
Budget 29"ers Abound: You may have noticed on Twenty Nine Inches how we have been posting a lot of new releases for '08 and that many of them are sub $1000.00 entries into the 29"er market. Expect coverage of these models to be headlines and look for more new bikes yet to be seen. Last year was the "single speed/do-it-all" 29"er that made a splash and this year it'll be the "budget 29"er". Some related parts that will crop up in regards to these releases may also be news. Forks, wheels, and tires should be looked at closely. I suspect RST and Spinner will be players in the budget 29"er market with their new 29"er fork lines. Right now, expect to see most of these bikes sporting Rock Shox Dart 29"er forks. (If they have front suspension at all!)
Forks: Unless SRAM/Rock Shox is being ultra-stealth, I don't expect much ground breaking news in the fork market for 29"ers. I could be wrong here, and I hope I am. Rock Shox has been getting a lot of requests for a longer travel, thru-axle type fork for 29"ers and I have not heard a thing about any possible development there. Perhaps it's in the works, but it would be a huge deal at Interbike if Rock Shox took the wraps off on any project related to a long travel 29"er fork. White Brothers should be showing a 135mm travel single crown fork and perhaps a new 150mm travel proto type that is being tested now. Marzocchi, one of the first to accommodate mass market 29"er fork needs, hasn't had a fork in it's line up for a couple of years now, and it doesn't look to me as if they will again this year. Manitou has already made the move to a 29"er fork line, but plans could be unveiled for what's to come from them. Fox has already jumped in too, but their fork is just now coming online, so I don't see anything new from them just yet in 29"er forks. Some "under the radar" fork companies like FRM, or others may show up, so I'll be keeping my eyes peeled.
Tires: Here's where I think "huge" news will be made. (pun intended) I think some mind blowingly fat rubber is going to show up at Interbike this year for 29"ers. I'm pretty sure at least one tire that's DH/FR/AM ready will be shown that isn't on anybodies radar yet. Plus, the Schwalbe tire, the Racing Ralph in 29"er sizes should be there. It's said to be quite big by folks that saw it at Eurobike. I suspect Maxxis, Geax, Continental, and Kenda will be showing tires that are new, or telling of new treads coming soon. I suspect new tubeless ready 29"er tires will be shown or at least rumored on the heels of Mavic's Crossmax 29"er wheel release. Other surprises surely lurk in this category, so stay tuned for the coverage on tires.
Full Suspension 29"ers: Again, we have shown a few new FS designs on Twenty Nine Inches and I expect there to be even more coming. The category will grow and several "growing pains" will be experienced along the way. (I'm not at all convinced that many FS 29"er designs are good or refined for bigger wheels) Look for something in the longer travel department to show up. Maybe more than one bike. Most will be in the threee to four inch travel range though.
Wheels and Rims: Mavic has already released it's wheel at Sea Otter, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if there was some additional news from them. Some other wheel surprises are sure to be had at Interbike. I'm betting on some rumors, or maybe even some actual hardware, concerning tubeless ready wheels and rims. Speaking of rims, I suspect more offerings to be shown for 29"er rims too. Wide will be the story line here, with many rims in the 28mm plus category starting to crop up. Perhaps another complete wheel set will be shown, as well.
So, these are the things I'm thinking will be big at Interbike this year for 29"ers. We'll see if I am right soon enough!